Not Out of the Woods Yet

Hi Friends! Happy first day of autumn! Since I saw you last, I completed another PDR (personal distance record). 18 miles!

Being the planner that I am, I ran after work last Thursday because we were flying to Chicago that weekend for a wedding that we were both in. I knew I wouldn’t have time while I was there to run for 2.5+ hours.

I got started at about 5:00, 2 Cliff Razz gels in hand, and I was on my way.

Everything went surprisingly well considering my last long run after work of 15 miles went AWFUL. I took a gel 45 minutes into the run and again at one hour and 45 minutes. I felt like I had a ton of energy, no aches or pains, beautiful weather, and good tunes.

So then I start to notice I’m losing daylight…and I’m still about 4 miles from being out of the park I was running in. It wasn’t dark yet but with all the trees around it made it darker and harder to see far ahead on my path.

I’m passing fewer people as they head to their cars. I see the park lights start to come on. All I could think about was the last run like this I had when I was training for the half marathon back in March; scared out of my mind running as fast as I could to get out of that park.

I have a huge fear of woods at night. Lurking murders, wildebeests, you get my drift. So here I was, on mile 13, realizing it’s going to happen again. My heart beats faster just remembering it.

I was literally sprinting through the next 4 miles to get me out of there. Good thing I just had that gel. I was scared out of my mind when I saw a man walking towards me on the path with a sharp walking stick and was pretty sure he was going to murder me right there.

I was praying and thinking of that story about the woman, who when walking home alone in a city one night, saw 2 burly men who had unbeknownst to her just attacked another woman a few minutes earlier, and started praying. Then later after the men were caught and being interrogated by police, they were asked why they didn’t attack the other girl (the one praying) and they said there was a man with her. I was hoping that was the type of thing going on at that particular moment of my life.. (wishful thinking?)

So, obviously I am fine and nothing happened. He nodded and I kept running, looking over my shoulder every 5 seconds to make sure he wasn’t running after me. He wasn’t. I wanted to cry but I still wasn’t out of the woods yet. (Nice pun)

Of course it kept getting darker; I mean it still takes me about 33-35 minutes to run 4 miles so I really wasn’t comforted by the fact that I had escaped that one.

Next up, the wild.

I heard something moving really fast in the woods and it sounded big. I about shat my pants. I was pretty sure I was going to get my arm, or worse, my leg gnawed off. I never saw the creature, thankfully. But this is what I imagined it looked like.

Definitely something that wanders in central North Carolina, right?

When I had about half a mile left until I was out of the woods, I came up on this open grassy area and saw 3-4 LARGE deer? I don’t know what the heck they were. They weren’t colored like deer and they seemed much too big to be deer. I’m thinking moose-size. But I’m small so maybe my perception is skewed.

I was sure that they were going to charge after me and then I started thinking of that episode of Planet Earth when they are documenting the attack of a gazelle by wild dogs in Africa or someplace like that. I’m sure you’ve seen it, the dogs all run together in a pack after the gazelle but then they start breaking off one by one to take their positions so they can hunt and eat the gazelle.

I was the gazelle in this story.

I was imagining this exact scene unfolding on my suburban greenway trail in North Carolina. *sigh*

I made it back home safely and finishing in the complete dark around 7:30-7:45pm-ish. Not bad, but I had a little help from my hormones with several “fight or flight” circumstances. I would prefer to finish slower and without the drama, thanks.

Overall it really was a strong run, strong all the way through. Seriously, the best long run I’ve had. If I ran like that on race day I would be really proud of myself. I’ll chalk that up to a good night’s sleep the night before, proper eating and hydration all day before the run, my gels, and timing of the gels during the run.

This week’s running has gone fairly well, despite having to run Tuesday and Wednesday on the dreadmill because of rain. 6.5 miles on Tuesday and Wednesday and 5 on Thursday. This week is a step-down week so I only have 13 this weekend. Funny how I say only. I was training to run that distance not too long ago.

Sorry for the novel of a post.

Take Home Message: Now that the days are shorter, I’ll definitely save any more long runs for the weekends. I only have 2 PDR runs left in training (wow!), which I will be able to complete on my normal long-run-day of Saturday. YAY!

Do you have any fears you sometimes face when you run?